Thousands of avid anglers rolled out of bed before dawn Saturday for opening day of Washington’s lowland lakes fishing season.
The true fanatics didn’t go to bed at all.
For them, opening day started at midnight.
That’s when the fireworks went off at Henley’s Silver Lake Resort near Eatonville, and by then a dozen people were already on the dock with poles ready.
At 12:20 a.m. Bill Kenney landed the first fish of the year — a 12-inch rainbow trout.
“I can’t believe it took that long,” said Kenney, who owns the resort with his wife, Amy.
The fourth Saturday in April is the traditional start of the lowland lakes fishing season in Washington, and it’s a date thousands of people look forward to.
It’s when several hundred lowland lakes — stocked with millions of fish — open for a six-month season.
The lowland-lakes opening is the state’s biggest fishing day of the year. To prepare, Department of Fish and Wildlife fish hatchery crews stock nearly 16.5 million trout and kokanee in lakes on both sides of the Cascades.
Those fish include 2.3 million catchable trout, nearly 115,000 “jumbo” trout weighing up to 11 pounds, and more than 50,000 triploid trout averaging 1 1/2 pounds.
“We couldn’t wait to get here,” said Steven Louis, a Boeing worker from Sumner who came to Silver Lake with his mother and longtime fishing buddy, Stella Lymas. “It’s opening day, and we really were anxious to get some fishing in.”
Other anglers were lined up shoulder to shoulder on the dock, but Louis and his mom said the crowds don’t bother them.
“It doesn’t matter,” Louis said. “I fish the rivers, too, and when you do that, you get used to combat fishing. It’s still relaxing. I’m kind of in my own world.”
Brian Taijeron of Spanaway had his wife and five children all geared up and on Henley’s dock at 1 a.m.
“We look forward to this every year, and then we go nonstop,” he said. “You just let everything go from the city.”
The opening-day crowds are part of the pleasure, Taijeron said, because people respect one another and the sport.
“You got to pass that respect down,” he said. “You teach the little ones to reach out to help other people. That’s what my dad did for me, and that’s what I’m doing for them. You do that when you’re fishing, and you do that at the mall. You do that everywhere.”
By 10 a.m., four of Taijeron’s five children had reached their maximum allowable catch of five fish. “Fish fry tonight.” Taijeron said.
Fishing information, including stocking details by county and lake, are available on the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website, wdfw.wa.gov.
Of more than 7,000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs in Washington, nearly 700 have WDFW-managed access sites, including areas accessible for people with disabilities. Other state and federal agencies operate hundreds more.
Rob Carson: 253-597-8693